It was a cold, windy day at the friendly confines today, one with all the makings for a pitching duel between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs. Cole Hamels was sharp from the get-go for the North Side Nine, striking out the first three batters in Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and Jesus Aguilar. Zach Davies toed the slab opposite Hamels, and danced around a leadoff triple by Jason Heyward to post a scoreless first when Orlando Arcia cut Heyward down at the plate trying to score on a ground ball.
The Cubs and Brewers traded zeroes — and double plays — until the fifth inning. Hammerin’ Hernan Perez got Milwaukee on the board with a solo home run to left center field, his fourth of the season. The Baby Bears put together a mini-rally with two outs in the bottom half of the fifth, starting with a single by David Bote. Albert Almora followed with a double, and Bote motored around to score from first ahead of the throw by Christian Yelich thanks to some skillful sliding at home plate.
After that, it was more zeroes, and more DP’s. Davies finished with the one earned run allowed across 6.1 innings, yielding six hits and a walk while punching out five. Zach lowered his ERA to 1.54 through 8 starts. Hamels did him a little better on this day, going seven innings with three hits and the one run allowed, walking three and striking out five. Both bullpens were stellar after the starters. Jeremy Jeffress (1.1 innings), Alex Claudio (HBP), and Corbin Burnes (1.1 innings) held the Cubs scoreless through the ninth. Carl Edwards (1.0 IP), Brandon Kintzler (0.2 IP), and Kyle Ryan (0.1 IP) did the same against Milwaukee’s lineup. That sent the contest to extra innings.
Josh Hader threw a scoreless 10th. So did Steve Cishek. Matt Albers allowed a hit and three walks but got some defensive help to post a scoreless 11th. Brad Brach matched his zero. Burch Smith came on for long relief, and after Xavier Cedeno walked the only batter he faced, so did Tyler Chatwood.
Milwaukee couldn’t touch the maddeningly inconsistent right-hander. Chatwood worked four scoreless frames and didn’t give up a single hit. He did walk three, but also punched out seven.
Smith was solid in his own right, but couldn’t quite hold things together. He gave up a hit and walked a trio of batters during his first three innings out of the ‘pen while navigating through things scoreless. But with one out in the 15th inning, Willson Contreras got an 83 MPH changeup on a 1-2 count and deposited it out of the park on to Waveland Avenue to end the game in walk-off fashion.
It was a game the featured a combined 13 hits, 19 walks, 30 strikeouts, 10 double plays, 46 runners left on base, and only three runs across 15 innings and 4 hours, 56 minutes. The 2-1 victory moves the Cubs (23-14) back ahead of our Menomonee Valley Nine (24-17) for first place in the NL Central. These two teams will face off in the series finale tomorrow, but after playing a pair of matinees in the first two games, they’ll be featured on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. Jhoulys Chacin is slated to face off against Jon Lester, with first pitch set for 6:05 PM central.